‘Cardiac Cowboys’ Escape With Improbable 22-19 Win Over App State
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- The Wyoming Cowboys once again showed how much heart they have as they came back from a 12-point deficit (19-7) early in the fourth quarter to rally for a 22-19 victory over Appalachian State.
The Cowboys improved to 3-1 on the season with the win.
At the 11:42 mark of the fourth quarter, Appalachian State cornerback Tyrek Funderburk intercepted a Wyoming pass and returned it 18 yards to give the Mountaineers a 19-7 lead and things looked bleak for Wyoming. But the Cowboy players’ resolve would show on the very next play from scrimmage.
Starting their next possession at their own 25-yard line, Cowboy quarterback Andrew Peasley handed the ball off to running back Harrison Waylee, who broke through the left side of the Wyoming offensive line and went 75 yards untouched to put the Pokes right back in the game at 19-14 with 11:31 remaining in the game.
Appalachian State then took the ball on its next possession and possessed the ball for 18 plays and nine minutes and 32 seconds driving down to the Wyoming 29-yard line where the Mountaineers set up for a 47-yard field goal to try to extend their lead. But with only 2:02 remaining the Cowboys once again showed their resolve.
The defense forced pressure up the middle on the FG attempt as defensive end DeVonne Harris blocked the kick and UW cornerback Jakorey Hawkins picked up the blocked kick and returned it 62 yards for an amazing touchdown to give Wyoming a 20-19 lead. The Cowboys then set up for a two-point conversion to try and stretch the lead to three points.
Peasley would connect with tight end John Michael Gyllenborg on a short pass and Gyllenborg forced his way into the end zone for a 22-19 Wyoming advantage.
After the two-point conversion, only 1:52 remained. Appalachian State needed a field goal to tie the game. The Mountaineers would pick up four first downs and drive from their own 31-yard line down to the Wyoming 20 when they attempted one more pass on a first down play.
But under pressure from Cowboy defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole, App State quarterback Joey Aguilar threw over the middle where UW nickel back Wrook Brown intercepted the pass at the Wyoming six-yard line with only 12 seconds remaining to seal the 22-19 win.
“Just when I think I’ve seen it all in 40 years, I have not seen it all,” said Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl. “Obviously, we are really excited about the win and the resolve of our players and the belief. That’s outstanding. We need to build off this.
“Appalachian State is a really good football program and a really good team. We did not play up to our capabilities, particularly on offense, for the majority of the game.
“This team believes in one another. They’re poised. They keep playing hard. I’ve seen other teams start to fracture, and that was not the case here. We beat a really good football team in an unconventional way, and we are going to take it. We are celebrating the win. We have a lot of work to do, but I’m going to enjoy tonight.”
The Cowboys wrapped up its non-conference schedule with a 3-1 record. Appalachian State finished the non-conference portion of its ‘23 season with a 2-2 record.
It marked the fourth time in the last four full seasons (not counting the COVID-shortened season of 2020) that Wyoming has started the season with a record of 3-1 or better through the first four games of a season, including 3-1 records to begin the 2019, 2022 and ‘23 seasons and a 4-0 start in 2021.
“I think all the pundits, including me, said, ‘This is really, really one of the more competitive non-conference schedules that we’ve had,'” said Bohl. “To come out of this 3-1, it exceeded some of the expectations I had. Now, it’s all behind us. It’s time for Mountain West play.
“There’s going to be a lot to look at on this tape. We’ve got to get better. But it’s a lot easier to get better with a win than it is with a loss.”
Saturday’s Wyoming win marked its 10th consecutive home win versus a non-conference opponent. That streak includes three non-conference home wins this season: 35-33 in double overtime over then No. 24 ranked Texas Tech on Sept. 2; 31-17 over Portland State on Sept. 9 and today’s 22-19 win over Appalachian State.
The 10-game home winning streak over non-conference opponents dates back to the 2018 season.
Wyoming’s win Saturday night saw the Cowboys score two offensive TDs and one on special teams.
UW’s first TD was on a nine-yard run by quarterback Peasley in the second quarter. That touchdown was set up by a recovered lateral by nickel back Brown, who of course intercepted App State at the end of the game to seal the victory. Brown created the two turnovers while celebrating his birthday on Saturday.
Wyoming’s second offensive TD was on Waylee’s 75-yard run in the fourth quarter. The Pokes’ third and final TD was scored on special teams, when cornerback Hawkins picked up the blocked field goal and returned it 62 yards for what would be the winning touchdown.
Individually, Waylee concluded the game with 156 rushing yards on 17 carries and one TD. He averaged 9.2 yards per carry versus App State.
Defensively, Cowboy defensive captains Easton Gibbs (linebacker) and Cole Godbout (nose tackle) led the way with 11 and 10 tackles, respectively. Linebacker Shae Suiaunoa and defensive end Harris added nine tackles each. Both also had a quarter back hurry, while Suiaunoa added a pass break-up and Harris had 1.0 sack to go with his blocked field goal.
Nickel back Brown added seven tackles to go with his recovered lateral and interception.
Appalachian State controlled the first 15-minute period putting together two long scoring drives of 67 and 87 yards, but the Wyoming defense stiffened on both drives and held the Mountaineers to two field goals of 25 and 28 yards by place-kicker Michael Hughes.
Appalachian State would hold a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Mountaineers would end the quarter with 139 yards of total offense to Wyoming’s 48.
App State also led in first downs, gaining eight to Wyoming’s two.
The second quarter began with a Wyoming punt that Appalachian State fair caught at its own 30-yard line.
After an incomplete pass on first down, App State quarterback Aguilar attempted a pass that was behind his intended receiver and was ruled a lateral. Cowboy nickel back Brown recovered the lateral at the App State 28-yard line and returned it two yards to the 26.
Runs of six and eight yards by Cowboy running back Waylee moved the ball to the Mountaineer 12-yard line. A five-yard pass completion from UW quarterback Peasley to wide receiver Alex Brown gave UW a second and five at the seven-yard line.
Waylee gained three yards down to the four-yard line, but in an attempt to run a hurry-up offense the Pokes were called for a false start and faced a third and seven at the nine-yard line. It was then that Peasley scrambled left out of the pocket for nine yards and Wyoming’s first touchdown of the day.
Place-kicker John Hoyland added the extra point to give the Cowboys a 7-6 lead with 12:28 remaining in the second quarter.
The Cowboy defense would come up with another big stop at the 9:20 mark of the second quarter when Appalachian State went for it on a fourth and one at the Wyoming 41-yard line.
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UW defensive end Harris burst through the offensive line and tackled Mountaineer running back Maquel Haywood for no gain to take over on downs.
Wyoming would then move the ball to the 50-yard line, including a 14-yard run by Waylee. But on a third and one at the 50, it was Appalachian State’s defense that came up with the big stop tackling Waylee for a two-yard loss to force UW into a punt.
Midway through the second quarter, Appalachian State engineered its second 87-yard drive of the first half.
The Mountaineers put themselves in position for a first and goal at the Wyoming nine-yard line, but again the Cowboy defense wouldn’t break and forced Appalachian State into their third field-goal attempt of the first half from within the red-zone. App State place-kicker Hughes converted again, this time from 20 yards out to put the Mountaineers ahead by a margin of 9-7 with only 1:09 remaining in the half.
Wyoming was unable to move the ball and were forced to punt the ball back to Appalachian State. ASU took over at the 50-yard line after the punt with 15 seconds remaining in the half.
The Mountaineers completed an 18-yard pass with three seconds remaining and called a timeout. Hughes came in and kicked a 49-yard field goal with no time remaining to give Appalachian State a 12-7 halftime lead.
The third quarter was dominated by both teams’ defenses.
Each team had four offensive possessions in the third quarter and neither team scored any points. Appalachian State accounted for only 63 total yards, while Wyoming totaled only 22 total yards in the quarter.
App State gained only three total first downs in the third quarter, while Wyoming had only one third-quarter first down.
While the third quarter was absent of any big plays, the fourth quarter exploded with excitement.
After Wyoming forced a punt on App State’s first possession, the Mountaineers pinned the Cowboys back on their own five-yard line after the punt. UW running back Waylee ran for 11 yards on first down and gained three yards on second down. Peasley then completed a one-yard pass to wide receiver Ryan Marquez. On third and six, Peasley attempted a swing pass to running back D.Q. James, but Mountaineer cornerback Tyrek Funderburk intercepted the pass at the Wyoming 18-yard line and ran it into the end zone to extend Appalachian State’s lead to 19-7, with 11:42 remaining in the game.
But the Cowboys would rally right back. On the very next play from scrimmage at their own 25-yard line, Wyoming running back Waylee broke through the left side of the offensive line and went untouched for 75 yards to put Wyoming right back in the game at 19-14.
The Cowboys’ blocked field goal for the game-winning touchdown by cornerback Hawkins followed by defensive back Brown’s interception for Wyoming sealed the Pokes’ third victory of the season.
Wyoming will open Mountain West Conference play next Saturday, Sept. 30 in War Memorial Stadium when the Cowboys will host the New Mexico Lobos in a 2 p.m. kickoff.
That game will be streamed on the Mountain West Network and broadcast over radio on the Cowboy Sports Network.
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